Steve Langton wins brakeman title
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Steve Langton and Katie Eberling won brakeman titles and Steven Holcomb and Elana Meyers topped the pilots Wednesday in the U.S. National Bobsled Push Championship.
Langton, from Melrose, Mass., won his third national title. The world push champion had a time of 4.61 seconds from the brakeman position and 4.66 seconds from the side for a total of 9.27 seconds.
"We proved that we're a strong team today," Langston said. "All of our athletes are the strongest they've been at this point, and we're still two years out from the next Olympics."
He edged USA-1 teammate Curt Tomasevicz of Shelby, Neb., by 0.11 seconds.
"It definitely feels good to start the season with a win," Langton said. "I worked really hard this summer and this was the first opportunity to see where I stacked up against the best in the country."
USA-1 driver Holcomb, from Park City, Utah, finished in 9.38 seconds.
"It's nice to be training hard again," Holcomb said. "I've been living here this summer at the Olympic Training Center getting back into the swing of things. It definitely feels good to start the year off with a push title. ... Our team is looking good. We're motivated and ready to bring back the world title to the U.S. this year. We're ready."
After last season, there was no guarantee that USA-1 would stay together for another year. However, that looks like a certainty now, with U.S. coaches deciding Wednesday night to have Holcomb, Langton, Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen remain in the "Night Train" sled for team trials next month.
Barring something unforeseen, that would mean they would be together for the upcoming World Cup season as well, with eyes on the world championships in Lake Placid next February.
"Team Night Train is reunited," Olsen wrote on Twitter. "I'm very fortunate to be back on the team this year."
Meanwhile, Eberling is trying to make the national team for the first time. The bobsled rookie from Palos Hills, Ill., had a total time of 10.41 seconds.
"I decided to come here to give it a shot and to see how it felt," Eberling said. "I still have a lot to learn, but I'm going to keep pursuing it and hope to gain a lot over this year."
Meyers, from Douglasville, Ga., won her fourth consecutive push title, finishing in 10.27 seconds. She's making the conversion from push athlete -- where she helped the U.S. win Olympic bronze at the Vancouver Games -- to pilot, and overcame a wrist injury to prevail on Wednesday.
"That felt pretty good," Meyers said. "I'm excited about the great start to the season. I still have some things to work on, and I plan on getting faster."
The push championships also brought one surprise: Vonetta Flowers is trying a comeback.
Flowers, who teamed with driver Jill Bakken and became the first black athlete to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics when they prevailed at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, retired from sliding after the Turin Games four years later. She finished fourth among U.S. women's push athletes on Wednesday, and intends to compete in next month's team trials. Pilots customarily choose their own brakeman for trials, so it's unclear who Flowers will compete with.
Flowers turns 38 next month.
The bobsled team, along with the U.S. skeleton and luge squads, plan to begin on-ice training in Lake Placid on Oct. 10.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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